Sustainability institute director heads to China to build relationships

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The Lipscomb University Institute for Sustainable Practice is reaching across the globe to China as institute director Dodd Galbreath attends the Shandong Economic, Trade and Yellow River Delta Development Conference in Dongying in November.

While visiting China, Galbreath visited two solar power component manufacturing facilities and had the opportunity to discuss cross-cultural training with Chinese business, government and university representatives.

A high-speed rail terminal in China.
At an LED light manufacturer in Dongying city.
Steve Johnson gets a briefing at Linuo Solar Group Co.
Dongying city condominiums and streetscapes.

“Due to the rapid growth of the middle class in China, graduate and undergraduate enrollment by Chinese students in the U.S. has risen significantly in the past two years,” Galbreath said. “Interest in sustainability is also increasing as China confronts the same growth challenges faced here in the U.S. in the past four decades.”

The Shandong conference was designed to connect American and Chinese businesspeople and educators, to share knowledge and cooperation as China develops. These trends and Lipscomb’s own outreach to China, such as the College of Business annual trip to Hong Kong, Beijing and other business-intensive cities, have shown that Lipscomb must be engaged in the world and must enhance our presence and our students’ awareness of an increasingly connected economy and global neighborhood.

Galbreath, along with LightWave Solar Electric’s owner Steve Johnson of Nashville, participated in tours of solar manufacturing companies in Jinan and Gaobeidian City.

 “(The Chinese) are very proud of their efforts to dramatically change the way renewable energy is produced and priced through aggressive investments in high-efficiency manufacturing and in their own use of solar energy,” Galbreath said. “Both solar plants we visited integrated panels in their industrial parks in a dramatic way. Every street light, rooftop and even corporate images were fed by, and designed to, positively market solar power.

The pair also participated in government-led tours of wind turbine, cotton, “hoop house” and sea cucumber farms. Their American tour group also visited software, automotive and LED light startup companies.

“The efficiency and professionalism exhibited at these state-of-the-art plants completely changed our perception of Chinese culture,” Galbreath said.

The pair also returned to Beijing on a high-speed train, one of more than 50 high-speed train lines in the nation to 30 major cities, with more miles of tracks than anywhere in the world.

“Our visit was very timely in terms of current events, and it was exciting to be able to discuss key sustainability issues in trade, urban development and the global marketplace with business, government and university leaders,” Galbreath said.

Since returning from China, Galbreath has been asked to attend a Tennessee legislative energy summit to share what he saw in China and how it relates to Tennessee energy policy.

“At Lipscomb, we’re gaining perspectives from China to integrate awareness of international markets and strategic trends into our curriculum for sustainability and business students,” Galbreath said. “We are trying to help our students understand critical global dynamics and how to function with an international perspective. As sustainability leaders, they will have to help our society come to grips with competitiveness which is part of our ultimate survival.”

Lipscomb University and LightWave Solar were among only 20 American organizations selected from 65 nominees to attend the conference and tours.